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I've noticed on American-oriented dictionaries/wordlists dotted about the WWW that the sound of the letter 'o' tends to be written as 'ah', e.g. "KAHNskript". This has kind-of surprised me, as surely to Americans it's the 'o' sound.

Most American speakers merge "short o" with "ah". The main exception, I believe, is Eastern New England speakers.
To me, 'ah' in a pronunciation would mean /A:/. To my ears, an American 'o' sounds similar but by no means identical to an /A:/.

Depends on what region you're talking about.
The presence of renderings of AmE 'o' as 'ah' suggests that it makes sense to some extent - do many of you across the pond have the same vowel in 'father', 'aunt' etc. as in 'dog', 'box', etc.?

Many Americans pronounce "aunt" like "ant". Others use the 'father' vowel, and I believe there are some that use the "caught" vowel. This cuts across dialectal boundaries to some degree, AIUI, because the "father" pronunciation of "aunt" seems to be an old prestige pronunciation. Ordinary Eastern New England speakers use the 'father' vowel in "aunt".

As for "dog", for most Americans who do not merge 'cot' and 'caught', "dog" has the "caught" vowel. I would assume that there are renegade British dialects where this is true too.

Steny '08!
Old-fashioned RP sometimes moves CLOTH to join THOUGHT (think of how they say "off"). My understanding is that in a ... and LOT are the same (the "short o", or "ah" sound) CLOTH and THOUGHT are the same (the "aw" sound)

You are correct, sir. In my accent (Postwar New York Prestige Standard(TM)), "trap" and "bath" have the two different short a's (be-able can and tin can, respectively). I use 'caught' in "cloth", as also in "moth", "broth", "froth", but not "Goth" (I suspect because I learned 'Goth' after learning 'Gothic').
There are of course variations on this. Now "father" is a PALM word, "path" is a BATH words, "box" is a LOT word, and I believe "dog" is a CLOTH word.

You are correct, sir. In New York English, that great dialect that embraces speakers as different as me and Dr. Daniels, "dog" is the one -og word that is in the caught class, whereas in, say, ErkE (the dialect spoken in the Chicago Region), such words as "hog", "log" and "frog" are also in the caught class.
In many American accents, the LOT/PALM vowel can sound to my ears like my TRAP/BATH vowel.

That would be ErkE and closely related dialects of the Upper Midwest and Inland North.

Steny '08!
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The "funny poem" is "Park the car in Harvard Yard" it sounds like "pahk the cah in hahvud yahd"

How very odd! Doesn't sound remotely funny to me. It's a bloody hoot when West of England yokels say "parrk the carr in harrvurrd yarrd", though.
Mike.
Mike Lyle filted:
The "funny poem" is "Park the car in Harvard Yard" it sounds like "pahk the cah in hahvud yahd"

How very odd! Doesn't sound remotely funny to me. It's a bloody hoot when West of England yokels say "parrk the carr in harrvurrd yarrd", though.

It's not the irrhoticity we find funny, it's that odd fronted vowel..r

For a British English pronunciation model for this word, I recommend Coleridge's fine poem with clear rhymes:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree,
Where Alph the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
(Do you have Prince Albert in the can?
No, but we have Kubla.)
Jack
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As in Imram Khan't?
(From a spectator poster seen at a New Zealand-Pakistan cricket match).

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
For a British English pronunciation model for this word, I recommend Coleridge's fine poem with clear rhymes: In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure dome decree, Where Alph the sacred river ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea.

The 1st, 3rd and 4th lines end /kA:n/, /r&n/, /m&n/ in every form of BrE I can call to mind.
Stewart.
In terms of the "lexical sets" of Wells's book Accents of English , the relevant sets are TRAP, BATH, ... (the "ah" sound) LOT and CLOTH are the same (the "short o") THOUGHT is on its own (the "aw" sound)

I've noticed that some people pronounce the 'l' in 'almond'. Guess that's either a sixth set or a special case..
Stewart.
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Does "Khan" sound the same as well?

For a British English pronunciation model for this word, I recommend Coleridge's fine poem with clear rhymes: In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure dome decree, Where Alph the sacred river ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea.

The same poem rhymes:
slanted, enchanted, haunted
forced, burst
ever, river
far, war
dulcimer, saw, Abora
Poets have funny notions about what makes a rhyme.

On the other hand, you can fix the Khan and dulcimer problem by saying the writer didn't intend abaab but abccb.

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